The researchers suggested tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food” and can help people with osteoarthritis manage their disease.
Twenty women between 40 and 70 years old with inflammatory osteoarthritis were tested. The results found that drinking tart cherry juice twice daily for three weeks led to significant reductions in inflammation markers. The reductions were more significant among women with the highest inflammation levels at the beginning of the study.
“With millions of Americans looking for ways to naturally manage pain, it’s promising that tart cherries can help, without the possible side effects often associated with arthritis medications,” said lead researcher Kerry Kuehl, M.D. of Oregon Health & Science University. “I’m intrigued by the potential for a real food to offer such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit – especially for active adults.”
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Athletes can be at risk for developing osteoarthritis, and may benefit greatly from cherries. In a previous study, Dr. Kuehl found that athletes who drank tart cherry juice during training reported significantly less pain after exercise than those who didn’t.
The antioxidant compounds in tart cherries are called anthocyanins. Their anti-inflammatory levels have been shown to be comparable to some well-known pain medications.
Research from Baylor Research Institute found that daily tart cherry extract reduced osteoarthritis pain by over 20 percent for a majority of those studied.
According to University of Pennsylvania Medical Center for Sports Medicine Director of Sports Nutrition Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, incorporating tart cherries into the training menu of professional athletes and active clients has helped manage pain. “Why not eat red when there’s so much science to support the anti-inflammatory benefits of this Super Fruit? And for athletes whose palates prefer the tart-sweet flavor profile of tart cherries, it’s the optimal ingredient.”
Sleigh, AE, Kuehl KS, Elliot DL . Efficacy of tart cherry juice to reduce inflammation among patients with osteoarthritis. American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. May 30, 2012.
Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chestnutt J. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2010;7:17-22.
Seeram NP, Momin RA, Nair MG, Bourquin LD. Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyanidin glycosides in cherries and berries. Phytomedicine 2001;8:362-369.
Cush JJ. Baylor Research Institute, pilot study on tart cherry and osteoarthritis of the knees, 2007.